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Team Sheet

Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
2
Scott Wiseman
3
Ibou Touray
6
Carl Piergianni
1 goals for Carl Piergianni
9
Adam Rooney (c)
10
Danny Lloyd

Dieseruvwe '74

11
Tom Walker
18
Danny Whitehead
22
Dennis Politic

Hogan '90+2

23
Nathan Pond
30
Rory Gaffney

Green '58

Dagenham & Redbridge
1
Elliot Justham
Yellow card for Elliot Justham
3
Liam Gordon
7
Alex McQueen
8
Kenny Clark (c)
10
Angelo Balanta
1 goals for Angelo Balanta

Kandi '82

15
Ben Goodliffe
16
Harry Phipps
17
Conor Wilkinson
1 goals for Conor Wilkinson
23
Jack Munns

Wright '78

25
Gavin Hoyte
33
Manny Onariase
Substitutes
12
Max Crocombe
4
Gus Mafuta
5
Liam Hogan
7
Matt Green
20
Mani Dieseruvwe
Substitutes
12
Lewis Moore
9
Chike Kandi
19
Tomi Adeloye
20
Will Wright
26
Olly Harfield
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Managers
Manager - Peter Taylor
Match Officals
Referee - Simeon Lucas
Assistant Referee - Oliver Mackey
Assistant Referee - Scott Chalkley
Fourth Official - Daniel Issawi

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Match
Report

A year ago, almost to the day high-flying Salford City – top of the National League North – were beaten 3-0 at home by Chorley. That setback kicked off a run of 4 games without a win and this season’s December is also proving to be little tricky. The Ammies have doubled their campaign tally of defeats over the last two games and today lost a home league game for the first time in 8 months. Dagenham & Redbridge travelled to The Peninsula Stadium as the division’s form team, so this was never going to be an easy afternoon. Even so, Peter Taylor’s much improved team were fortunate to return home with all 3 points that from a match that on another day could easily have gone the other way.

There was one change from the side that lost at Chesterfield a fortnight ago, with Liam Nolan replaced in midfield by Dennis Politic. There was no place on the bench for Bolton loanee Harry Brockbank, with his seat taken by new signing Matt Green.

Another chilly, wet afternoon in Salford 7 but it seemed as if The Ammies were determined to warm the cockles of the home fans’ hearts. There was a pace and directness about Salford’s early play, with Dagenham forced to do some defending during the opening stages.

The Daggers, starting the game with 5 at the back, rolled up their sleeves for what would turn out to be a busy defensive afternoon. Even so, the visitors managed the game’s first attempt on goal, courtesy of Conor Wilkinson whose 15-yarder lacked both pace and direction.

Salford responded with Danny Lloyd pushing forward on the flank then crossing for Adam Rooney whose header was straight at Daggers’ keeper Elliot Justham. In the 9th minute Politic’s drilled his corner from the left to the near-side edge of the area, from where Tom Walker drove in a low shot. The ball spun up off Carl Piergianni with Nathan Pond just unable to apply a finishing touch with his head at the far post.

Walker had another go just a couple of minutes later after collecting a short pass, nudged back by Lloyd from inside a crowded area. Another low effort flashed in but this time it took a deflection off a defender to go just wide of Justham’s right-hand upright. Politic lofted a delivery towards the far post and PIERGIANNI was there to plant a header past the keeper.

A 5th goal of the season for the central defender and on the back of a strong start, things were going to plan for Salford City. They continued to ask questions of the Daggers defence, with one especially promising move spoiled only by an over-hit cross from Ibou Touray on the left.

Other than for Wilkinson’s early effort Dagenham had struggled to make any attacking inroads but they were almost handed an opportunity in the 18th minute. Piergianni’s pass inside from the left was routine enough, but on a surface left slick by heavy, persistent rain Pond slipped just as he collected possession. Amber shirts were closing in, but the Salford defender recovered quickly, steadying himself to poke a low ball back to Chris Neal.

That incident seemed to usher in a better spell for the visitors and they had a more tangible chance midway through the first half. Pond got up to meet a cross into the Salford area only for the ball to spin off his head but not out of play. Angelo Balanta was onto in a flash, but instead of having a go himself he decided to square a pass with no team-mate in a sufficiently advanced position to take advantage.
Better for the Daggers but the ball was soon down at the other end where Danny Whitehead had a low 18-yarder blocked by Jack Munns.

There was more attacking possession for The Ammies after that, but the conditions were making it difficult to play good football. Politic managed to move into space through the middle 13 minutes before half-time but his 20-yard floated effort dropped wide of the keeper’s left-hand post. The young Romanian midfielder had Salford’s next chance too, collecting a short pass from Rory Gaffney before having his low 18-yarder charged down by Harry Phipps.

The Ammies had threatened a second goal for a while but were lucky to avoid being pegged back in the 36th minute. Balanta’s run took him past the wrong-footed Pond and into the left-hand side of the penalty area. A neat one-two with Alex McQueen followed before Balanta lifted in an effort that beat Neal only to be blocked by a defender just in front of the goal line. A scare for Salford but their reprieve would prove to be brief. Seven minutes before half-time Touray’s forward ball was cut out by Munns with the Dagger’s midfielder immediately sliding a pass through the inside-right channel for Wilkinson to chase. A sight of goal opened up and Wilkinson responded with a low shot that had Neal diving full-length to his left to push away. Possession fell for Phipps on the right and his cross was a belter, with WILKINSON getting up 12 yards out to guide a header away from Neal and in off the base of his right-hand upright.

All square, but the Ammies had been stung into action and almost restored their lead a couple of minutes before half-time. A spot of defensive dithering from The Daggers allowed Walker to nick possession and he rolled a low pass to the left for Rooney. Salford’s leading scorer had space to advance into, left-of-centre and pushed into the area before pulling the trigger. It was a decent effort, hit low and hard, but Justham had spread himself expertly so that the ball deflected off him and wide of his left-hand upright.

Salford won a couple of corners during time added on at the end of the first-half and Politic aimed the second of them at the near post. Justham pushed the ball away only for Gaffney to head right back at him from close range. The keeper had little time to react but instincts kicked in as he raised an arm to push the ball onto the crossbar then over, taking a whack off the woodwork for his troubles.

HALF-TIME: SALFORD CITY 1 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE 1

Justham had done well during the closing stages of the first half to keep his side on level terms, and The Daggers had more defensive work to do at the beginning of the second. Walker’s effort from distance cleared the bar by quite a way but Whitehead went much closer in the 50th minute. The midfielder collected a clearance before turning to slam in a low effort from nearly 25-yards out. It looked very much as if Justham had managed to turn the ball aound his left-hand post yet the referee awarded a goal-kick.

Down at the school end a mixture of strength, skill and luck saw Balanata bustle clear of two challenges only to be stopped in his tracks by a brilliant sliding challenge from Piergianni on the edge of the penalty area. Balanta was involved again soon after that, picking up the ball on the left, tight to the line before hitting a rising effort into the side-netting. The vocal contingent of Daggers behind the goal demanded a corner but the referee was having none of it.

The Ammies were seeing plenty of the ball, some of it in decent positions, but other than for Whitehead’s effort Justham in the Dagenham goal was not being seriously tested. Home manager Graham Alexander responded by making his first change of the afternoon, replacing Gaffney with Green whose transfer from Lincoln City had only been completed on Friday.

Salford continued to press and Politic’s corner from the left was met by Piergianni whose under pressure header fell short of the goal. An almighty scramble ensued but there were amber shirts back in numbers and nobody in red could get a shot away. The ball was cleared but within seconds Politic had seen his effort blocked then Touray’s powerful drive from left-of-centre was deflected wide of Justham’s right-hand post.

As had happened in the first half, Dagenham emerged from a spell of absorbing pressure to snatch a goal themselves. The Daggers won a corner on their left and Munns’ delivery was met by BALANTA who rose to direct a header across Neal and inside the far post.

In fairness Dagenham hadn’t particularly merited that lead but having got their noses ahead were in no mood to let it slip. Predictably enough Salford were soon rolling forward in search of an equaliser and Scott Wiseman’s cross from the right dropped to the far post. Phipps got in a less than convincing headed clearance that fell nicely for Touray whose rising pile-driver from 20 yards and left-of-centre cleared the bar by a foot. With 20 minutes to play Lloyd tried his luck from wide on the right but found it was out as the ball soared high over the crossbar.

Mani Dieseruvwe came on for Lloyd soon after that but faced with an amber and black defensive wall, The Ammies were struggling to find a way through. Men were committed forward and Dagenham almost took advantage of the extra space in their opponents’ half 15 minutes from time. Balanta’s excellent through-ball sent Munns clear and he made his way into the left-hand side of the penalty area. This looked ominous for Salford but Munns’ final touch was heavy and although he pushed the ball past Neal it ran out of play for a goal-kick.

That could have been game over, but Salford were still very much in with a shout. With 12 minutes left Whitehead pushed forward on the right before passing inside for Walker. From almost 25 yards out and well right of centre the Ammies’ midfielder left fly with nicely struck effort that Justham could only watch as it cannoned off the underside of his bar prior to being cleared.

So close for Salford but time was beginning to run out for them. Politic took a corner short to Touray on the left and the full-back delivered a decent cross towards the far post. Piergianni got his head to it but was under defensive pressure and the ball dropped into the 6-yard box where It was smothered by Justham.

The pressure was on again, but The Daggers were holding firm. With 7 minutes to play they brought on fresh legs as Chike Kandi came on for Balanta.

Touray swung in another cross from the left after that, with Green getting there at the near post but it was a difficult chance and the header went high and wide. Dagenham countered, and Kandi slid a pass to the left for Wilkinson who took the ball in his stride as he advanced to the edge of the box. The low, angled drive that followed was goal-bound until Neal got down to his left, nudging the ball wide of the far post.

A great save by the Salford keeper and one that kept his side’s hopes of rescuing a point alive. The ball was spending most of its time inside the Dagenham half but clear-cut chances were not really materialising. Whitehead’s low pass inside from the left was met by Politic with a blaster that was charged down and another scramble for possession started in front of goal. Once again The Daggers had enough bodies back to snuff out the danger and the clock was running down...

The fourth official raised his board to indicate a rahter light seeming 4 minutes of time to be added on, to the disapproval of both the home bench and support. Dagenham had been pushing their luck for a while in terms of gamesmanship in the form of timewasting and keeper Justham would be yellow-carded for overdoing it.

Wilkinson’s attempt to turn inside Salford’s box ended with him hitting the turf, with the referee ignoring some pretty heated claims for a penalty. At the other end The Ammies piled on late pressure and Walker’s corner from the left was pushed away by Justham, dropping for Wiseman on the far side. The full-back coolly took a second to line up his shot but Justham was there again, pushing the ball over for a corner kick that came to nothing.

SALFORD CITY 1 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE 2

The last time a side from Essex/East London visited The Peninsula Stadium Salford rescued a point with a very late goal. Try as they might, the trick could not be repeated this afternoon and a first home league defeat of the season has been recorded.

It’s not the first time this season that an early goal has seen The Ammies take their foot off the gas a little. That happened to an extent today and after going a goal behind an equaliser that was probably deserved evaded them.

Manager Graham Alexander will be disappointed with the failure to build on an early advantage and I imagine he has made his feelings known. His side worked very hard to regain their lead – then hunt for a leveller – but luck was against them and the little spark of quality required to break down resolute opponents didn’t quite appear. Had Walker’s strike not come back off the bar Salford may have even gone on to snatch a win, but that’s all water under the bridge now.

You can see why Dagenham have improved so much lately – they are well organised, with players capable of making and taking chances. They defend well, in numbers when necessary and are a much better than the side that drew with 10-man Salford back in the September.

The Christmas/New Year schedule is pretty unforgiving, with matches come thick and fast. A double-header -vs- Wrexham is separated by a journey to Barrow, then the first Saturday of the new year brings a trip to London for a clash with current league leaders Leyton Orient.

A test of character, as well as ability and it’s one we should approach with confidence.

Attendance: 2,082 (106 from Dagenham & Redbridge)

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